Monday, March 9, 2015

Atlantis downer post

The #1 NPR program is "On Point", and today the second hour featured Plato's story of Atlantis, with Mark Adams, a man obsessed with the tale.  Okay, as an amateur who has only read library books, I don't know why anybody would trust Plato's account of some foregone place, since he lived in the 4th century BC, long past the age of myth, and there is no mention of "Atlantis" or any some-Atlantis like situation in Homer or Hesiod, or in any ancient Greek myth or cult, nor in Roman myth or the known other tales from Mediterranean cultures.

So, some 4th century BC Athens metropolitan is the first known author to have heard of this tale from pre-history, which in his telling involves Athens, a city shameful with self-promotion in that time, pushing the Theseus franchise, getting the common Greek polis goddess known as "Athena", not Thebea or Argoa; and he supposedly heard this from sailors, who are well known not to be shy in telling tales, yet nobody before Plato had heard a sailor talk about this mysterious ill-fated place, when in reality sailors tell all they know and more than they to know to anybody who can stand to listen to them, and if there had really been an Atlantis that had fallen into the sea in prehistory, the tale would have been huge in Homer and Hesiod and many of the mythic tales involving the gods and heroes.

But there is nothing until Plato?  Why would this ancient tale have been not recorded in the story of Ilium or the Calydonian Boar or Jason?

Odysseus in "The Odyssey" visited all kind of crazy nonsensical ungeoprachical places but never heard of Atlantis.  The ancient bards loved to reference other mythic tales in their stories, people love references.  But nothing is told until Plato, who lived in a rational post-Socratic age, when triremes had sailed out and back over the possibly explored near seas.

Plato was wholly dealing out parable and metaphor here.  There is no Atlantic you dumbasses. Nobody in the Bronze Age or Archaic or Classical Greece until Plato knew of any Atlantis, until the philosopher in 4th century BC Athens described it in great detail.  This ends the Atlantis conversation, no more will be heard.

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